dance review

A visual feast just needs a bit of food for thought

MYSTERIOUS MELANCHOLY: Though its music has been overused, Takehiro Ueyama's "Footsteps in the Snow" offers some gorgeous moments.
MYSTERIOUS MELANCHOLY: Though its music has been overused, Takehiro Ueyama's "Footsteps in the Snow" offers some gorgeous moments. (Kokyat)

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By Rebecca Ritzel
Special to the Washington Post
Monday, January 24, 2011

The tableaus choreographer Takehiro Ueyama created at Dance Place Saturday night might just be the most memorable scenes audiences see there all year. From the choreographer slowly rolling across a stage covered in artificial snow to a room full of dancers silently bending in deep grand plies, the guy knows how to set the mood. It's looking for meaning in his movement, rather than just looking at it, that viewers might find a tad frustrating.

Ueyama is an eight-year veteran of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, and homage to Taylor was obvious in the three balletic works his own New York-based troupe, TAKE Dance, performed. Ueyama's nine recruits include fellow Taylor alum Jill Echo and a current Jose Limon dancer, Elise Drew. He's not hurting for talent; everything they did was worth watching.

But Ueyama's work lacks that hint of brooding genius that keeps audiences thinking even during Taylor's brightest dances. "Linked," set to two instrumentals by Pat Metheny, looks a lot as if a gifted yoga class decided to go out dancing at the easy listening lounge. Their hips gyrate at the apex of each jete. It's fun, but cool jumps alone don't justify a dance.

Ueyama set "Footsteps in the Snow" to three pieces by Arvo Part, an Estonian composer whom choreographers need to let rest. No one will top the ballet Christopher Wheeldon set to the same somber music. But "Footsteps" has its gorgeous moments, like a pas de trois for a tall male dancer spinning two women through the snow, and an intertwined couple lowering themselves to the floor. It's one long, lovely elegy, reason for sadness unknown.

Ritzel is a freelance writer.


© 2011 The Washington Post Company

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